Every so often something so powerful happens that it causes you to reevaluate what you believe, and how you've been acting on those beliefs.
For years I've been acting a certain way towards those I work with, whether it was when I was running my own business, or, as I am now, working for someone else. I've also been acting this way at home. I see my children starting to act this way too. It's a way of acting that I simply didn't want to believe I was doing.
That's not possible.
What I was doing was operating with a defeatist attitude.
I can't point to a specific point in time where my default answer became “no”, however it's been permeating all aspects of my life for many years, and in thinking more about it, has held me back from achieving the greatness I firmly believe I can achieve.
Pro Tip: One thing the people in your life don't need to hear you ever say as a standalone phrase is “that's not possible”.
I'm limited by the technology of my time, but one day you'll figure this out. And when you do, you will change the world.
– Howard Stark, Iron Man II
In looking back at my attitude of no I see deeply flawed logic. I believed for a long time that I was bringing righteous Truth to light, helping the people around me understand what could and could not be done. Perhaps with the knowledge I had at the time I didn't know how to do something, however that didn't make it impossible.
I didn’t fail a thousand times. I found a thousand ways not to make a light bulb.
– Thomas Edison
Was it possible that solutions existed that would have gotten us 80% there, allowing a fuller solution to be discovered? Perhaps.
So what happened?
I had a bit of a “come to Jesus” meeting with a manager at work. What he told me caused me to look really hard at how I've been operating, and more importantly, how that can be viewed by those around me. I looked at myself so hard and so deep that it really fucked with my head for a few weeks.
During this self-inquisition I asked myself many questions, including:
- Am I really a team player? What does it mean to be a team player?
- Am I truly the type of leader I view myself as? What does it mean to be a leader? What does it mean to lead from the front?
- What is, at the core, really important to me?
- What do I truly enjoy in life? What am I good at? What am I not so good at? What do I want to be better at?
- What do I want to achieve in life?
- What attitudes and beliefs have been holding me back from achieving what I want?
- What attitudes and beliefs do I need to change in order to be more successful (at work, in life)?
- What attitudes and beliefs do I need to completely discard in order to become more successful?
- What does success mean? What does it look like?
I read a number of books:
- Liminal Thinking by Dave Gray
- The Last Punisher by Kevin Lacz
- The Term Sheet by Lucas Carlson
I watched a few episodes of Black Mirror.
I even spoke with a number of people I work with and respect in an attempt to continue to point the finger outwards instead of inwards.
And at the end of all this I came to realize that I needed to change myself.
Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.
– Bruce Lee
In order to start down the road of changing myself I realized there was one core belief I needed to completely destroy: that by changing myself – my attitudes, beliefs and actions – I am somehow compromising who I am at the core. Am I completely changing everything about me, everything I believe? No, no I'm not. There's no need to. However what I am doing is changing that which is holding me back from what I believe I can achieve.
I am a tiny foxtato. And I believe in you. You can do the thing.
Foxtato believes in you.
Foxtato believes in me.
Foxtato has an attitude of “you can do it, let's figure it out.”
I have chosen to adopt the Foxtato attitude: I believe it can be done, and I will find the way to do it.
I will find the way to do it.